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The Trouble with August

Every August feels the same. The evenings become cooler, the cicadas get louder and I find myself desiring to squeeze every last drop out of summer. Is it possible to cram in the boating, picnicking and lake swimming that I had imagined I would be doing all summer? Somehow, I never got to any of these things! My to-do list did not get done either. Another summer almost gone and my desk is still a mess, I did not make a single photo album and the pile of old camping gear in my laundry room seems to be growing. These essential organizational tasks were supposed to be well underway by August! So now I am spending the month feeling regretful for the things that I should have done and I’m feeling the all-too-familiar annual sense of unease.

As I reflect on these feelings, for the first time, I can see that it is about more than meets the eye. It isn’t really about swimming or cleaning at all. The feelings are quite complicated because I am struggling with dealing with transition and change…

Navigating Complicated Pregnancy Loss: One Therapist's Story

Abortion is distressing. Yet, the inability to have an abortion is unthinkable. The time has come to speak the truth. There are countless reasons that women find themselves in the position to make this choice. I have had the privilege of caring for these women both medically, as an Obstetrician and Gynecologist, as well as psychologically, as a Licensed Professional Counselor. The truth of the matter is that no woman has ever wanted to be in the position to make this choice. The choice is painful. It is filled with anger, sadness, confusion, relief, grief, guilt and so much more. The emotions are complicated, and women often find difficulty sorting them out and allowing polarized emotions to co-exist. Whether abortion is medically necessary or a difficult choice, the women affected are in need of support and love during their healing. Which brings me to my own story…

At age 37, I was gifted with my third pregnancy. I remember the feelings of joy that only escalated when I found out th…

Therapy is for Everyone

There doesn't need to be anything wrong with you to go to therapy. You don't need to be healed or fixed. Therapy is not for those who are broken or crazy, but for the courageous ones who are willing to look inside themselves. Therapy is the modern work of today's leaders who know that personal growth and transformation make all the difference in this world. 

Mr. Fix It

Masculinity is often built around competency. Men want to feel capable and that their arrow hits the mark in everything that they do. Men want to cross items off their to-do lists, complete the project and eliminate the threat. We are built to protect, so when there is a problem we focus on eliminating it so that there is a sense of safety and wellbeing around us. 
Men will tend to take this fix-it mentality into their relationships with their spouses. While this approach can be helpful when it comes to practical items that need repair, it can backfire in partnerships. When it comes to relationships, the fix-it approach is not always effective. Our partner's struggles don't need to be eliminated, they need to be heard and held and soothed. Providing reassurance and support ends up being a more effective expression of modern masculinity than trying to solve problems.

Does Love Sabotage Desire?

A married man went to visit the doctor one day and the doctor said, 'Have you had sex in the last seven days?' And the man said, 'No, my birthday's in April.'

That’s the running joke, right? When you say “I do”, you’re really saying “I don’t” to sex. The problem is, lack of intimacy in long-term relationships, often labeled as “losing the spark”, is not a laughing matter for the many couples that face this struggle.

If you’re having a hard time keeping the passionate, desire-fueled sex alive with the partner you’re deeply in love with, know that you’re not alone. Esther Perel, a Belgian therapist who's crafted a successful career focused on relationships, sexuality, and couples therapy recently gave a TED Talk explaining why even loving, committed couples can struggle to keep the sexual spark alive in their marriage or long-term relationship. 

To Love Is To Have and To Desire Is To WantOne of the main culprits behind the decline of desire with time, according to P…

What to Expect from Therapy

In the past, people thought therapy would “fix” them. They thought if they went to the therapist they would be repaired, much like taking their car to the auto mechanic. Yet today, there is a new model of therapy emerging for the 21st century.

Therapy can now be seen as a journey of self discovery. A journey where you may realize strengths you thought you never had, and address weaknesses you thought you could not face. It is a place to be with what hurts within while stepping into being really great. In the presence of a skillful, non-judgmental, compassionate therapist, you will have the opportunity to face these aspects of yourself so that new ways of being can emerge.
Why Should You Go to Therapy?
Whether the issue is anger management, anxiety, disconnection from life, children acting out, marital difficulties, addictive behaviors, or any number of concerns, the reason to seek therapy is now clear. Therapy is an opportunity for transformation. Learning alternative choices, growing…

In Praise of Expressing Sadness

Sadness by CuteTaeminnie
In Praise of Expressing Sadness
Being sad ain't so bad. In fact expressing sadness can be both useful and creative. When we think of being sad, we usually think of crying. Yet crying isn't the only way to express sadness. In fact, the expression of sadness may be one of the most creative and powerful forces which we have available.

Some of the most beautiful art, music, poetry and social movements have come out of people's sadness. When we're sad, we are in touch with something powerful and creative. Turning the sadness into words, actions or creative expression can create real healing. It can also move, touch and inspire others, allowing them to process their sadness in new ways.

The next time that you are sad, you can certainly shed tears, yet also stay open for how that sadness could turn into something beautiful.

Real Toughness

Let me tell you about toughness. So much these days we see images of tough people doing tough things. Yet most of these images are of physical fortitude. Being strong physically is great, but being mentally tough is just as important.

Because physical strength is easily recognized and demonstrated is gets celebrated more readily in our culture. Yet since mental toughness is not visible, it doesn't get nearly the same play as brawn. Mental strength is not easy to see, but it makes all the difference in living a fulfilling life.

Being strong of mind means being able to work with difficult thoughts. Its about being with, talking to and comforting strong emotions. Its about wrestling with spiritual paradoxes, existential realities and confusing philosophies. Like a first responder running towards danger, we must train our minds to head towards the places within us which are difficult. Like a martial artist, we must learn mental agility and cunning in order to flow with life.

Those th…

Acceptance vs. Permission

Acceptance is not the same as permission. Acceptance is the beginning of an inquiry. It is the first step on a journey. Whereas permission, psychologically speaking, is allowing unhealthy behavior to continue.

Often people confuse the two. They think that if they accept something unpleasant about themselves, or another, that they are condoning bad behavior to continue. Instead, acceptance is living with things as they are, and then taking steps from there. Acceptance is living with oneself and others, warts and all, and then growing. Permission is suffering along with something you don't want, and feeling powerless to do something about it.

If I accept that I made a mistake or did something hurtful to someone that I love, it does not mean that I am okay to do it again, over and over. It does not mean that I permit myself to keep acting out. Rather, acceptance is the first step towards better understanding oneself and then working with what's there. It is a call to growth, and…

Paradigm Shift

A shift is on. The world is changing and we are a part of it. We are moving from an age of sacrifice to one of responsibility. No longer is life about compromising, taking one for the team, or throwing oneself on the grenade. Those days are over. Instead of sacrifice, the emerging paradigm is about responsibility. Taking responsibility for one’s own actions, emotions and relationships is the calling of today. Sacrifice of the self is no longer needed nor is it idealized in the same ways. Instead, taking responsibility for the self, in all its facets, is what is being asked of modern men and women.  Yet we don't have to do it alone. Help is here on the journey!

Biker Wisdom: You go where your eyes go

In this blog series I want to share some of the wisdom that I have gathered over the years from an unlikely source: bikers. I believe that the same practices that create a safe and rewarding ride also produce a purposeful and fulfilling life. These stories and lessons have been learned from talking to bikers, reading about motorcycle safety, and from my own riding experience. The metaphors are meant for everyone regardless of how many wheels you take to get to work.
"You go where your eyes go." This was one of the first lessons in my motorcycle skills course and I have heard it praised as one of the most important lessons for a rider. While riding a motorcycle your shoulders turn whenever you move your head. When your shoulders move, your arms move. your arms turn the handlebars and the handlebars direct the bike. Wherever you are looking on a motorcycle is where the bike will go. Sounds simple, right? While riding it takes focus and intention to keep your where you want th…

Relationship Workout

Biology has shown us the mechanics of making our muscles stronger. When we go to the gym we push our muscles outside of our comfort zone which results in tiny tears to the muscle. Our body repairs these tears and builds on them so that the body is more ready for the next training session. Our muscles are becoming stronger and more resilient to the damage we are causing.

Psychology has shown us that the mechanics of making a stronger relationship are similar. By sharing thoughts, feelings, or bringing up conflicts that may be outside of our comfort zone with our partners we are taking our relationship to the gym. Though the process of confronting a partner about something you have been holding in may be uncomfortable and could even tear the relationship, it also builds resiliency in the relationship which sets the stage for more intimacy and connection.

In a gym workout, you don't want to go in cold and lift the heaviest weight, this leads to injury. Similarly, in a relationship i…

The Subtle Harm of Busy-ness

Within yoga philosophy exists the concept of Ahimsa. In short, Ahimsa translates to non-violence or non-injury. For many individuals this may be an easy concept to ignore because of the initial belief that, "I am not a violent person, or I've never hit anyone, or I believe in peace, or I don't even like watching violent movies". 
True to yogic fashion, however, this concept encourages individuals to peer deeper into themselves and see that there may in fact be ways that we commit violence against ourselves and others in quite subtle, non-intentional ways. Consider this quote by Thomas Merton:
"There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence to which the idealist most easily succumbs: activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to wan…

Driving the Invisible Car

Have you ever had those days when it seems no matter where you go someone is turning in front of you, cutting you off, practically running you off the road? It's as if they don't even notice your car is there. In my household we have a funny little response on those those days--"Well, I guess I'm driving the invisible car today?!" We use this phrase as a way to lessen the frustration and attempt to take things in stride. However, it feels much less light-hearted when we stop and think about how many of us spend so much time feeling like were "driving the invisible car" in every facet of our lives.  Sometimes we don't even know that this is what we're feeling because it is buried under anger, loneliness, apathy, or numbness. All of those emotions provide fuel to the invisible car, but what they don't show is what lies under the hood--the nagging sense that we aren't truly seen by anyone. 

What does it feel like to be seen? Truly being see…

Dance, Sing, Listen

"In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions: "When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop being comforted by the sweet territory of silence?" - Gabrielle Roth

Unlived Lives

"The greatest tragedy in a family is the unlived life of the parents" - Carl JungHow can we best help our children learn and grow? By living extraordinary lives ourselves. For those concerned about their children's development, we advise living your life as fully as possible. Play big, create new possibilities, find wonderment in your own life and your child's world will become dramatically transformed.

Missed Shots

Recently Kobe Bryant set the NBA record for most missed shots than any other player in league history. At 13,418 missed shots, Bryant, one of the greatest players of all time, is at the top of the list of failed attempts. Kobe's misses might tell us a little something about taking shots in our own lives. If we get comfortable with when things don't go so well, then it frees us up to follow our higher ideals and deeper longings. In other words, keep shooting!

How Do We Replace The Things That Have Been Lost?

How do we replace the things that have been lost? What do we do when what we relied on goes away? How do we cope when the people we count on are no longer there? This is a core question which brings many people into therapy. It is really difficult to know how to replace what was lost, yet when we look inside ourselves we might find an answer. If we look at what aspects of ourselves were lost in the losing then we might find a way to carry on. It is precisely where we were attached to the old ways where healing can occur, and new ways of being can be born.